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Public hearing on Gorham Road Ext. closing set in South Portland

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Public hearing on Gorham Road Ext. closing set in South Portland

SOUTH PORTLAND — The City Council on Monday night set a May 3 public hearing and vote on a proposal to close Gorham Road Extension.

The closure is needed so the city can sell a 1.4-acre parcel at the corner of Gorham Road Extension and Western Avenue.

City Manager Jim Gailey said that if the road closure is approved by the council on May 3, the road will be closed soon after.

"The next day we (would) put up Jersey barriers," Gailey said. "It's almost an immediate action."

The city is proposing to close about 840 feet of Gorham Road, from MacArthur Circle to the Western Avenue intersection.

Gailey said access would be preserved at the rear of businesses in the Plaza 29 shopping center so they can receive deliveries.

The city wants to sell the land to Vincent Maietta, who plans to build a 34,000 square-foot retail center – which may include a Buffalo Wings & Things and a Subway – by combining the city parcel with a 1.5-acre parcel abutting the Redbank Village.

Maietta agreed to pay the city $600,000 for the property, but $200,000 has been earmarked to remove under-ground utility lines, a project estimated to cost $350,000.

The land sale is contingent upon the development receiving all necessary approvals. Maietta has also asked the city to kick in the remaining costs for removing the utilities.

On Feb. 23, the Planning Board issued a positive recommendation to close the road as well as rezone the parcel to a Limited Business zone to reduce setbacks.

Only two people, both business owners, spoke during the board's public hearing.

John Butler, who owns 45 Western Ave., said he was concerned that residents living in the Brickhill area who are accustomed to using Gorham Road Extension will instead cut-through his parking lot using a small road separating his business from Plaza 29.

Russell Cloutier, a real estate manager for C.N. Brown, which operates a Big Apple convenience store at 90 Western Avenue, said the road closure would hurt that business.

Cloutier said a median on Western Avenue makes it impossible for traffic heading towards to the Maine Mall to make a left turn into his store. To get around the median, he said customers typically use Gorham Road Extension, rather than drive-by and turnaround at other businesses.

"The only business this is going to hurt is us," he said.

Cloutier said he would oppose the closure if the city doesn't remove a portion of the median to allow customers to make that left turn – a proposal that could create other traffic concerns.

The May 3 public hearing will take place at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 25 Cottage Road.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net